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Linda Keith, born in 1946 in West Hampstead, London, England, to Pearl Rebuck and the renowned British radio presenter Alan Keith, was an exceptionally beautiful woman. Both of her parents hailed from Russian-Jewish immigrant backgrounds. Despite her father’s initial disapproval of her career aspirations as a fashion model, Linda pursued her passion with determination. She became well-known for her influential work at Vogue magazine during the 1960s and her active involvement in the rock music scene, establishing herself as a prominent figure of her time.

As a Jewish woman, Linda Keith enjoyed the privileges of a good education and financial stability. However, her true passion lay in music, particularly blues, in which she was a fanatic. During her time at Vogue, Linda started a romantic relationship with Keith Richards in 1963, at the tender age of seventeen, becoming a witness to the rise of The Rolling Stones.

Linda’s reputation in the music industry grew significantly due to her contributions to the discovery and development of the legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix’s career. She played a crucial part in Jimi’s rise to fame, helping to shape his image and introducing him to influential figures in the music scene.

In this article, we’ll cover better this latest topic and discuss how Linda was so important to the career of the greatest guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix.

 

Linda Keith and the “Swinging Sixties”

 

The vibrant cultural revolution of the Swinging Sixties swept through the United Kingdom during the mid-to-late 1960s, with Swinging London at its heart, driven by the youth. This era witnessed flourishing art, music, and fashion scenes, symbolized by icons like the Beatles and the mod and psychedelic subcultures.

Mary Quant’s miniskirts and models like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton epitomized the bold fashion trends. Music played a pivotal role, with bands like the Kinks and the Rolling Stones defining the “London sound.”

This period also saw a surge in cinematic experimentation and social activism. London experienced a metamorphosis into a vibrant hub of style and creativity, fueled by an economic boom and the burgeoning youth population.

Linda Keith was a key figure and epitomized the spirit of creativity and rebellion that defined the era. As part of the vibrant cultural scene of Swinging London, Linda found herself at the heart of a bohemian community, alongside influential personalities like Sheila Klein, partner of Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Linda’s presence, captured by renowned photographer David Bailey, reflected the freedom and self-expression of the era.

 

Linda Keith and Keith Richards’s Relationship

 

Linda Keith’s modeling career began after she was discovered delivering mail at Vogue House in her late teens. She gradually rose and began posing for renowned photographer David Bailey.

At the time, her best friend, Sheila Klein, was dating Andrew Oldham, who went on to become the manager of the English rock band Rolling Stones. Through him, she met the band’s guitarist Keith Richards, with whom she bonded over their shared interest in music, with a special interest in Blues. The two soon became romantically involved and Linda began accompanying the band to their US tours. Linda Keith was Keith Richards’s first true love.

But as in many love stories, especially among celebrities, the relationship began to sour in the spring of 1966, after Keith Richards bought a house in Redlands. But another perhaps more impactful factor in the couple’s fragmentation emerged as they continued making plans for a future together: drugs started to come between them.

Keith Richards wasn’t yet the myth, the legend that we now know as the wild, crazy, and dangerous “Keef”. It was Linda Keith who paved the way. She smoked more weed than him and was the first to try acid. Heavier drugs soon came into the picture with the switch from amphetamines to the more potent cocaine. However, Linda didn’t hold back and dove into coke.

Even though Keith Richards later adopted a crazy lifestyle, at this time he was unhappy with Linda’s drug use, and everything became strange, being the main factor for the breakup of their relationship.

 

The Day Linda Keith Met Jimi Hendrix aka Jimmy James

 

The Stones was to do a much anticipated US tour in 1966, and Linda Keith had come over one month early, to check out the New York club scene. Linda spent time frequenting the clubs in Greenwich Village and in May 1966, Linda with her model friends, visited the Cheetah Club in New York, where she saw Jimi Hendrix for the first time playing guitar with Curtis Knight and Squires. That performance marked his final show with the band, wrapping up an eight-month period during which he had been playing alongside them.

Linda was immediately struck by Jimi Hendrix’s performance and invited him to sit down after the show. The model was determined to help Jimi gain prominence in the music scene and be recognized. Allegedly, following their initial encounter, she extended an invitation to her apartment, initiating discussions about his potential solo career and introducing him to LSD.

Indeed, Linda and her friends invited Jimi Hendrix to visit Linda’s apartment, and a very shy Jimi accepted the invitation, albeit somewhat reluctantly. The evening ended up being quite interesting; besides the psychedelic experiences, there was a lot of conversation about music, and many vinyl records were played throughout the night. They talked and listened to Bob Dylan records, and Linda may have encouraged Jimi to form his group to write his songs, and above all sing. Yes, because if Dylan sang, Jimi could do it too.

 

What Was the Importance of Linda Keith in Launching Jimi Hendrix’s Career?

 

Linda got The Stones along with Andrew Loog Oldham, and Seymour Stein (the guy who later signed with The Talking Heads and The Pretenders) to watch Jimi Hendrix perform at Cafe Au Go-G in the Village (at the time, still billed as “Jimmy James & The Blue Flames“). They were all unimpressed.


Despite her efforts, she struggled to attract interest in her protegeé without luck. On August 2nd, 1966, just before returning to the UK and losing contact with Jimi, Linda convinced Chas Chandler, bass player of The Animals, to see Jimi Hendrix at Cafe Wha?.

Jimi Hendrix played his guitar behind his head and with his teeth, all the antics that would later become famous. Chandler was taken aback by the show. He couldn’t believe that nobody had already signed him, and ended up helping in his career, propelling the guitarist towards his ascent, with the famous invitation to come to the UK with the promise of making him a star and introducing Jimi to one of his heroes, Eric Clapton (at the time hailed as the Guitar God).

Linda Keith, in an interview years later with the Observer, commented: “I was determined that he should be noticed, get a record deal and blow everybody’s mind. I knew it was all there so I went for it.

It wasn’t about music that the relationship between Linda Keith and Jimi Hendrix was formed. The model ended up becoming deeply involved with Jimi, eventually taking on the musician, which stirred up controversy and strained her relationship with Keith Richards. Many claimed that Linda was a bad influence on Jimi’s music, as the model was dealing with serious drug problems.

Linda and Hendrix lost touch completely. “I was still the one he came to when the chips were really down,” she says. And before his death, he made contact again. “He wrote saying he’d written a new track, See Me Linda, Hear Me, I’m Playing the Blues. I always loved his blues playing but then most of his songs do sound like the blues.

Linda left such a profound mark on Jimi that he later wrote “Send My Love to Linda” about one of the loves of his life. Amidst the many women who were part of his life, Linda Keith was undoubtedly one of Jimi Hendrix’s most important girlfriends. Also, in the movie “Jimi: All Is by My Side,” it is suggested that Jimi also wrote the song ‘Red House’ about Keith.

Despite everything and the brevity of their relationship, Linda became one of the significant relationships in Jimi’s life.

 

Linda Keith and the White Stratocaster: The Story of How Jimi Hendrix ‘Acquired’ Keith Richards’ Guitar

 

One of the most astonishing tales of the 1960s rock ‘n’ roll scene occurred when Linda Keith, who was engaged to Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards at the time, lent an iconic white Stratocaster to the yet-to-be-discovered Jimi Hendrix.

Linda asked Jimi why he played with Curtis Knight, and he said, “I don’t have my own guitar“. Jimi Hendrix’s guitar by this time was in the pawn shop. Linda promised to get him a guitar. This guitar, a white Fender Stratocaster belonged to none other than the Stones’ guitarist himself, Keith Richards.

It was the night he smashed up a white guitar,” she told the Observer. “I was beside myself. I’d lent him a guitar belonging to my boyfriend and there he was smashing one up on stage! I was absolutely livid with Jimi because to me that’s the most un-cool thing to do.

 

Linda Keith Interview on Jimi Hendrix (1973)

YouTube player

 

In this rare interview that Linda gave in 1973, after the death of Jimi Hendrix, she kind of comments on how she was fascinated by the sounds of Jimi’s guitar, as she had never heard anything like it before in her life, despite her knowledge and deep involvement in the musical culture of the 1960s.

She was determined to meet him and make someone recognize his worth. She was also shocked to see Jimi so talented, behind the band he was supporting and doing those typical R&B band dance moves.

It’s somewhat funny considering that a little more than a year later, Jimi would be burning a guitar onstage at the Monterey Pop Festival!

 

What Happened to Linda Keith? Drug Problems and Later Life

Linda and Keith Richards broke up during the time Chas Chandler was touring with The Animals, and Keith Richards alarmed Linda’s father that she was hanging out with bad company in New York, talking about Jimi Hendrix!

Stein appeared and escorted Linda back to England. This made it difficult for Chas Chandler to find Jimi Hendrix when he finally came back to New York after finishing the tour with the Animals.

Then, in 1967, still, during these fateful months of the relationship between Linda Keith and Keith Richards, Keith wrote “Ruby Tuesday” with Brian Jones and released the song as a hit single in January 1967. “Ruby Tuesday” was Keith’s swansong to Linda Keith.

Jimi Hendrix met with Linda Keith again when he came to London in September, just weeks before he died. They met at the club “Speak Easy,” and Jimi, accompanied by one of his girlfriends at the time, Monika Dannemann, gave Linda a Fender Stratocaster in an old suitcase along with some letters she had written to him, as an act of his gratitude for everything she had done for him. She was a major catalyst in Jimi’s career.

Upon his return to the UK, Linda Keith became a ward of court. In 1968, she broke the news following a drug overdose in Brian Jones’ apartment. Not surprising given Linda’s history of drug use. Depois da more de jimi hendrix, Linda encontrou mmotivação para ela própria see tentar livrar das drogas.

Keith disappeared after the rock epidemic of the 1960s. Known interviews, such as the one referenced above in this article, took place in 1973, and what is known is that she spent much of her life at her parent’s home at 81 Cholmley Gardens until her father died in 2003 at the age of 94.

In 2014, she was portrayed by the English actress Imogen Poots in the biopic “Jimi: All Is by My Side,” while rapper André 3000 appeared as Jimi Hendrix. Linda Keith has also appeared in several documentaries based on the life of Jimi Hendrix.

She now lives in New Orleans with her husband, the record producer John Porter, whom she married in 1983, and is 78 years old

 

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The Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday

 

YouTube player
Send My Love to Linda

 

 

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